WESTERN COUNTIES ALLIANCE GIVES UPDATE
Ken Brown of the Western Counties Alliance, came before the Commissioners and said, “I wish there was better news.” He said, “PILT, in 2015 there was $442 million and this year there will be $452” nation-wide, an increase of $366,000+. Brown related there are two bills in Congress trying to push for permancy on PILT funding. Brown and the WCA have been working to educate “both sides of America interested in understanding the benefit of PILT and the services counties provide on public land.’ Brown noted, “Without PILT, the Feds will have to provide the services.” Counties got along without PILT until 1977 when it was funded and Brown said the vast increase of people out on public lands since then highlight why PILT is necessary. “County can take care of their own people and situation but can’t take care of everyone else.” Brown noted that elements in Congress have labeled PILT as a “Western welfare program” and wanted to take 95 percent of PILT and apply it to the deficit.
Turning to geothermal, Brown noted that “Eureka County is not a big player. Geothermal is a good clean source of energy.” Over the last three years, “Eureka County had an increase” in geothermal revenue and “the County is holding quite well.” He’d like to change the formula to one-third, one-third, one-third which the Feds don’t want to do since they get 50 percent of the revenue. Brown can’t get any support of that. He’d also like to see the revenue flow directly to the County rather than through the State.
Brown noted that Secure Rural Schools has been reauthorized for 2016 payments of $272 million. The County received $137,911 which was shared with the School District. Brown said, “If SRS was not reauthorized for 2017 payments, Eureka County’s payments would go from $137,911 to $13,791” which “is pretty scarey if you have to get along without that revenue.”
Regarding the issue of public lands transfers, Brown said Utah was on the verge of moving forward with the Supreme Court but that’s changed because of the death of Justice Scalia and they backed off doing anything at the moment. It will cost about $14 million to see that through the Supreme Court. Brown said, “If you can get the lands into production which the states and counties would do,” he’d like to see that happen but said, “It’s really going to be a challenge.”
Brown said the Wild Horse & BurroProgram continues to be a gigantic problem with Nevada “the biggest impacted state followed by Wyoming” with “those who’d like to see public lands freed from livestock grazing.” Brown wasn’t able to go to the annual meeting but sent in a public comment and is staying abreast of that program.
With a board vacancy and Nevada without a representative board member, Brown asked Chairman Goicoechea to consider being a board member.
Goicoechea said he turned it down in the past and that “it’s not worth it at this time and too dysfunctional” and declined.
Brown noted that Senator Udall introduced legislation in respect to the 1872 Mining Law, S2254 complemented by HR963 in the House which Brown characterized as attempting to “delete hard rock mining from land in the West.” Brown said it’s the “first time that Westerners have introduced legislation; and they say, ‘Oh well the fees need to increase or the reclamation process is not up to speed.’” Brown said, “We have opposed any effort to amend the mining law and we will continue to adamantly oppose these kind of pieces of legislation.”
Turning to the Clean Water Act, Brown pointed to the attempt by the Feds to move water issues to a federal basis “rather than the States while the States are doing a good job with the Clean Water Act.” Brown said, “Even Obama’s legal people told him he can’t amend the water or mining.”
Brown said it will be “interesting to see what goes on the remainder of this year.” He said at a coalition meeting he “had to rein myself in” as he was “getting a little mouthy” with Congressional staff: “and I said ‘Obama made a fool out of the Congress. What are you going to do about it in the future?’” He added, “But , it’s true: when are you going to step up to the plate and protect what needs to be protected?”
He turned to membership fees and said he understands fully about the economic crisis. “This county’s been a stalwart member of WCA” and “so whatever, Commissioners, you can do with the fee structure…”
Goicoechea said that NRAC has recommended paying some fees before the end of the fiscal year and the Commission approved $1500 from the NRAC budget to be paid before June 30th to the WCA.
Commissioner Sharkozy attended an April 11, Search and Rescue meeting where he learned how to put a patient in the ambulance and take them out which he said made him appreciate the work of the ambulance service. Tuesday the 12th he attended the GBRDA meeting in Ely; on the 13th, he attended the Economic Development meeting in Crescent Valley and on the 19th the Senior Center Advisory Meeting in Crescent Valley.
Goicoechea attended the Sage Brush Ecosystem Council Meeting on April 7 and was still getting phone calls on the MOU that was signed, including from Elko County, asking whether that was a good step. Goicoecha said, “I don’t know why it wouldn’t be.”
On the 15th he went to Winnemucca for the Legislative Committee on Public Lands where he “felt our voice was heard” and said “Commissioner French did good job.” In addition, he was there for the Sage Brush Ecosystem Council meeting attended by a “roomful of people that didn’t have any idea what the Conservation Credit System was.” He is on the agenda for July in Elko “to give our county update for that committee.” On the 18th, he and Ron Damele and fire department people met with the Ely fire people for an agreement with White Pine County and the BLM so it is understood “when we go and why we go.”
On the 19th, Goicoechea had phone calls with the Cooperative Extension setting up interviews for the educator position. On the 19th, Goicoechea participated in a conference call with NACO’s committee. The Committee of the UNR Faculty Senate voted to support the consolidation. Goicoechea said Jim French of Humboldt County will go and testify and communicate concerns such as “what are we doing with the money and where is it coming from?” Counties are told if they participate in the Cooperative Extension program they “must levy one cent” with “some counties saying they will just spend the reserve down and don’t want to levy the one cent but still want to participate. Goicoechea said he doesn’t “think you can do it both ways.”
Mike Sullivan, EMS Coordinator, reported that since last report Eureka had 12 calls for service and Crescent Valley 2 for a year-to-date total of 62 which is exactly the same as last year. The EMS Continuing Education classes will be in Eureka on April 25th and on the 28th in Crescent Valley.
Sullivan said they are still training on the new record-keeping program and while the process is underway will not go away from the current electronic program.
On April 4, Sullivan attended the Project Heartbeat quarterly meeting and on the 7th and 8th the Eureka ambulance responded to rollover accidents that included a fatality. On the 13th, Sullivan attended the Nevada Crisis of Care meeting which addressed the legal ethical framework to provide medical service when resources are exhausted. With the Eureka ambulance quite busy, Sullivan thanked the Sheriff’s Office and the Volunteer Fire Department for help. The Sheriff’s Office is transferring a four wheeler to the CV EMS which will help in transporting passengers from remote locations.
Ron Damele, Public Works Director, reported they had a meeting on Monday with White Pine and Ely and the BLM to talk about access to water, equipment and safety and response areas. Eureka has a hand shake agreement with White Pine on response areas. The meeting was well-attended by the BLM and the White Pine Fire Chief. There will be a Red Card refresher course on April 30th which will get most of the people who haven’t had their annual refresher covered. The refresher course for Pine Valley and Dunphy should be in May to “catch most of those volunteers.” There is a new State Forester, Joe Freeland, who came out of New Mexico and the BLM. “We have some opportunity to make some progess with Joe there.”
Damele had a transitional meeting with Andy Rossman, Patty Peek and Rhy Taylor to work on the transition come July 1st when Rossman will be leaving as Director of Tourism, Cultural Events & Economic Development and Peek and Taylor for the Opera House and Sentinel Museum will come under Damele’s supervision.
Damele reported the EPA is back in town following up with people who’d like to have their residences cleaned up and scheduling those; and they’ll be in town most of the summer and starting the repositiory construction in the late spring and staging their equipment in the back of the county shop.
Damele said related to the new permit for the waste water treatment facility, they have to purchase a boat to measure the sludge in the waste water ponds once a year. Damele joked they’ll be ordering scuba equipment next year.
Clerk/Treasurer Bev Conley reported Eureka began the month of March with $14,388,250, received revenue of $415,879; made disbursements of $686,149 and closed the month with an ending fund balance of $14,117,950.
EUREKA COUNTY COMMISSIONERS APPROVED:
Expenditures of $1,663.17 including a pass-through to the School District
Directing the Comptroller’s Office and the District Attorney to direct supervisors and employees related to requirements for periods when a non- benefitted employee will exceed maximum hours
The Eureka Emergency Medical Services Revenue Recovery Program & Billing Policy with the understanding the EMS Coordinator will update the financial hardship and poverty guidelines;
Out-of-state travel for the Public Guardian to attend the Alzheimer’s Association Annual Conference in Sacramento on May 18th-20th which will provide continuing education units required to maintain certification with the National Guardianship Association;
Adopting a resolution honoring longtime Eureka County employee, Randy Stucki;
Accepting the Treasurer’s Verified Return of Sale and Reconciliation of Trust Property for the Tax Delinquent Properties ‘Sealed Bid’ Auction ending on April 14, 2016;
Adopting a resolution directing the County Treasurer to execute and file Quitclaim Deeds for record with the County Recorder and to deliver said Quitclaim Deeds for properties sold at the auction ending April 14th ;
Pursuant to NRS 361.603, acquiring the parcels which did not sell at the auction ending April 14th: APN 003-202-06; APN 003-202-09; APN
Assess a non-performance penalty of $9600 to Nevada Health Centers; Signing a resolution for support and promotion of May 2016 as Nevada Wildfire Awareness Month with the theme, “Create Unity, Fire Adapt Your Community.” May 6 from 11 to 1, May 21st at Crescent Valley Fairgrounds.